The phases pictured here offer a helpful reminder of the journey of parenting.
Start a conversation
- What phase of parenting are you in?
- What challenges and blessings have you experienced?
- What are some of the challenges when parenting involves multiple phases at the same time?
- What have you found most helpful in the phases of parenting?
- What would you do differently when you look back on the phases?
Specific challenges parents face
A helpful way to look at the challenges of parenting is David Tripp’s five idols that parents must confront.
- Idol of Comfort: “I just wish life were a little easier, a little more peaceful, and a little more predictable.”
- Idol of Respect: “If it is the last thing I do, I am going to get her to respect me!”
- Idol of Appreciation: “I have done and done for them and this is the thanks I get? It is about time that I got a little credit for all of my hard work!”
- Idol of Success: “Do you know what it is like to do all this work and have him behave this way? What are people thinking about our family now?”
- Idol of Control: “If I had a little more control around here, life would be much easier and he would be in far less trouble!” (from: “Age of Opportunity” Paul David Tripp).
Balance is needed
While it’s right to teach children to be respectful and appreciative, if we’re motivated by a feeling and demand that these are owed to us, we’ll lose focus and fail to offer the influence our children need. The challenge is to build the qualities of respect and appreciation into the lives of our children without making it about ourselves.
A tough assignment
Aim to make the discipline of your children something you do for them as a matter of character formation, rather than something you do to them in an angry reaction.
When it comes to discipline, it’s important in many situations to be decisive and swift in requiring proper behavior (see: Ecclesiastes 8:11). And there’s nothing wrong with children having a healthy fear of parental discipline.
So I am not advocating the notion that our tone and response should always be quiet and without proper anger. I’ve seen parents who make the mistake of failing to be firm and decisive. They end up with children who think that they can be in control and learn to scheme and manipulate there way through life.
Start a conversation
- Which of the five idols do you struggle with?
- Are specific idols more challenging in different phases?
- What have you found helpful for the balance emphasized above?
- What have you found helpful for overcoming the idols?
- Discuss the phases and idols with your mate and/or with a trusted friend
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